Church open for Public Worship – July 5th

Holy Trinity Church open again for public worship.

Following the Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from 4th July, providing physical distancing remains in place, the Bishop of London, who leads the Church of England’s Recovery Group, said: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today that we will soon be able to begin to meet and worship together in our church buildings again.

The Bishop of London states “The last three months have been an extraordinary time – the first period without public worship and the sacraments in England in more than 800 years. There will be real joy as we begin to come together again – if even at a physical distance – but I also know that many will be understandably cautious at this news. The Bishop goes on to state that “We will not be returning to normality overnight – this is the next step on a journey. We have been planning carefully, making detailed advice available for parishes to enable them to prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical to do so. It is important to say that the change in Government guidance is permissive, not prescriptive.”

Here at Holy Trinity in Ramsgate we want assure the congregation and visitors, that after four deep cleans and a daily regime of cleaning door handles, light switches and pews with antiseptic wipes, we are doing all we can to make our Church a very safe environment for worship. This still entails being disciplined about social distancing. Even though the rule may have been relaxed to 1 metre in some places, we want to keep as best we can to something more like a 2-metre rule for the safety of the majority.  The Bishop also states, “There will still be restrictions and we must all still do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable.”  I am acutely aware as parish priest that there are many within the medical and scientific community that feel we should be cautious as there are still over 1000 new cases every day being reported. So, we must be aware that we are still living with a global pandemic all around us.

My plan as parish priest is to make it as easy as I can to accommodate the congregation as safely as possible, working within the confines of the law.

Our PCC plan is to offer the usual Mass with limited music (No Coffee afterwards)  at 9:30am and then I will celebrate a later non-public Mass to be “live” streamed for those who cannot join with us at present. This allows the filming to be done discreetly and without distracting the gathered congregation at 9:30am.

Abstract defocussed cross silhouette in church interior against stained glass window concept for religion and prayer

Things that have changed.

  1. There will be no public singing, as this is still a sure way of transmitting the virus through droplets. We are however allowed to have a single cantor to sing from an area away from the congregation.
  2. We will not share the Peace with hugs or handshakes. We will simply look at each other as we say Peace be with you. No physical contact is the safest way to avoid catching the virus.
  3. No kneeling at the altar rail. Communion will be administered in single file by standing before the priest, with social distancing between other communicants as they approach the priest.
  4. Communion only given in one kind! No wine from the chalice. During the Prayer of Consecration, the ciborium containing the hosts will be closed with its lid in place to reduce droplets. The priest will be replacing the normal Lavabo (washing hands) with the use of hand sanitiser.
  5. Communion will be given only by the priest using silver tongs on to the palms of the hand, not the tongue. The priest will not say the words “The Body of Christ” to every communicant, but to all before distribution, thus keeping any possibility of contact or droplets to a minimum. The priest will be wearing a mask at the time of communion for your safety and his.
  6. There will be no use of Hymn books or Mass books, only a single sheet to be taken away by the individual worshipper after Mass. Please, do not leave them in Church after you have touched them.
  7. As you leave, keep a social distance from your friends.
  8. No Sunday School until at least September.
  9. No collection to be taken, but collection plates will be available in various parts of the Church for you offering.
  10. Seating arrangements will be clearly marked on pews to allow for safe social distancing. However, if you come as one family or members of one household, you may sit together, but keep a distance from non-family members, ideally in a different pew.
  11. Our hope is that there will be one midweek Mass on Wednesday at 6:00pm thus allowing a 72 hour period following Sunday worship.
  12. Fr Paul will continue to say the daily office at 9:00am and 5:00pm Tuesday – Friday and 5:00pm on Saturday. People are free to join him but without books. This will be a reflective listening experience of prayer and reflection.